Beverly Hills remains vulnerable to builder’s remedy, state agency says
Letter informs city its housing plan needs “additional revisions” to reach legal compliance
The City of Beverly Hills is still vulnerable to builder’s remedy, after the state deemed its plan to build more housing over the next eight years was inadequate.
The state’s Department of Housing and Community Development rejected Beverly Hills’ housing element last month, according to a letter from HCD. The city now has to submit another revised plan.
Builder's Remedy still reigns in Beverly Hills pic.twitter.com/DayzYYzXP9
— Steven Sharp (@EstebanCortante) December 20, 2023
The decision leaves the Beverly Hills City Council without the right to approve or disprove a housing project based on zoning rules, so long as the project meets certain affordability requirements.
Losing that right is a legal provision called builder’s remedy, which a handful of developers have capitalized on over the last two years, as city housing plans have come up for renewal.
Beverly Hills was one of many cities that failed to score state approval on their respective housing plans by a certain deadline. In the case of Beverly Hills, the city has been out of compliance with state housing law since October 2021.
“The city has a lot more work to do,” Dave Rand, an attorney at Rand Paster Nelson, said of Beverly Hills after HCD’s letter. “This is their way to wrestle zoning control back from the state.”
In its letter to the City of Beverly Hills, HCD said the city needs to do more to show how it plans to comply with fair housing laws, such as promoting more housing choices or identifying conversion opportunities.
“Additional revisions are necessary to substantially comply with State Housing Element Law,” HCD wrote in its letter.
A number of builder’s remedy projects have been filed with the city.
Developer Leo Pustilnikov has filed project plans for more than six developments through builder’s remedy; together they would total more than 1,200 apartments when built.
Soundview Investment Partners, run by Max Netty, has also filed plans for a 17-story apartment project at 145 South Rodeo Drive, with 56 units.
The concept of builder’s remedy got two big political backers at the end of last year, when Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state’s attorney general, Rob Bonta, asked a court to jump into a legal battle over a project in La Cañada Flintridge.
“The City of La Cañada Flintridge is legally required to process this affordable housing project under California’s builder’s remedy because they did not adopt a compliant housing element on time,” Attorney General Rob Bonta said in December.